Campaigners seek to buy former village school for community

Campaigners are seeking to reclaim the former Rodmell Primary School, which closed last summer, for the village.

Members of the Rodmell and Ouse Valley Collective outside the former primary school
Members of the Rodmell and Ouse Valley Collective outside the former primary school

The Rodmell and Ouse Valley Collective’s goal is to save the building for future generations of local residents.

Its vision is to buy the old school from the Diocese of Chichester and turn it into a multi-purpose facility for the use of the community. This could include co-working office space, rooms for village events, classes, education, church functions, parties, exhibitions, a small café/ shop, studios for local artists and maybe a post office.

A spokesperson for the collective said: “Rodmell has a rich, cultural heritage with deep connections to the visual arts, writing and music.

“This well-resourced building could become a flourishing venture, boosting the local economy, with people working and supporting each other in the community for the good of all.”

A questionnaire conducted in the autumn on ideas for the former school’s future yielded a positive response and as a result the Rodmell and Ouse Valley Collective was formed.

Thirty signatories then helped to secure the bid for the building to be listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by Lewes District Council. This allows the community to raise money to bid for the building before it goes on the market. The Collective has now become a Community Benefit Society, a not-for-profit, limited company, governed by an elected board of directors.

On February 18, the Diocese of Chichester notified the council of its intention to sell the school. The Collective responded, informing the council that it should be treated as a potential bidder.

Simultaneously, the Diocese requested a review of the ACV, seeking to overturn the council’s decision. This was unsuccessful at a hearing last month and the original listing was upheld.

The spokesperson said: “There are many hurdles to overcome, the most obvious being how to raise the money to buy the school (valuation as yet unknown). This will need investment from the local and wider community, as well as financial support from grant funding and loans.”